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Your Biggest Problem Is That You Think You Have Time

by | Nov 11, 2021 | Life

A time waster is my worst nightmare.

I worked with many of them in corporate. They existed for the sole purpose of wasting other humans’ time. The reason has nothing to do with intelligence.

They simply had not discovered the value of time. They didn’t realize the reason we waste so much of our time chasing money is because it buys back our time. So they unconsciously wasted time as if it were infinite.

Charles Darwin, who is best known for his thoughts on the science of evolution, knew the value of time. The title of this article is an edited quote of his. “A man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of his life.”

The trouble is, you think you have time

Author Jack Kornfield said this on an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast. It has stuck with me ever since. How many of us waste the days because we think we have plenty more to come?

I used to joke with friends and family on every birthday that I was Peter Pan and lived forever. I lived that way my entire life and abused my body with alcohol. In 2015 I got the news I had narrowly avoided cancer after they found a lump the size of a golfball in my guts and had to cut it out.

From that day on I no longer thought I had time.

My mind now tells me I’m living on borrowed time. So my time management philosophy has radically shifted.

Tragedy shapes how you think about time. The next time one happens in your life, use it to recalibrate how much time you think you have left. It will help take how you use time to the next level.

The biggest lie about productivity culture

Popular productivity advice assumes we want to complete more tasks on our to-do list. We work harder for nothing … and don’t understand why.

We actually don’t want to be more productive. What we really want is more time — Shane Parrish

All paths in life lead to us wanting more time. That’s because life is a gift. There’s so much to do and so many places to visit. It’s the reason I gave up my job and learned how to invest money. I couldn’t give a flying hoot about Lambos and mansions.

I just want the joy of full control over my time to do whatever I want. If my day is completely wasted then I want to know it was me that caused it, not the result of some micro-managing boss with a tiny brain.

Use productivity to increase how much free time you have. Then it’s working in your favor, as opposed to being a giant distraction.

“Time discovers truth”

(According to Seneca.)

You see it all the time. People who think there are shortcuts to getting results, when in reality, time in the game beats everything. Let time show you the truth? Did you stick at it for 12 months?

Now, time for the uncomfortable truth: did you stick at it for 5 years?

If the answer is no then time is showing you the truth. The truth is you’re impatient. Your desire for fast results is the cause, not whatever your excuses are screaming in your head.

Time shows you if you’re committed to a goal or just lying to yourself.

Time multiplies whatever you feed it

Good habits make time your ally.

Bad habits make time your enemy.

— James Clear

Habits create compound interest in the productivity world.

I view habits as a way to become efficient at a skill and get more out of it, so I trade a smaller amount of minutes each time I do it.

Take writing as an example. I used to be a slow writer. Now I can write twice as fast. That’s not an accident. My writing habit, practiced for the last 7 years straight, led to the efficiency. You can do the same.

  • Pick a task or skill.
  • Schedule it in your calendar.
  • Repeat weekly.

If you have an off day, repeat the habit but only for a short time. That’s how you keep habits working for you, even when life messes things up and you have no control over it.

The speed of time strangely varies

What if you could use productivity to time travel? Flow states have been spoken about at length, however, not like this. Chef Frank Prisinzano claims he time travels daily with flow states that put him on auto-pilot.

You’re doing what you love and it doesn’t feel like work. You can even escape your body’s movements so that your mind is free to wander and see the future.

Flow states have altered his perception of time so much that he says, “I got addicted to the flow of that job,” when describing a chef job. These flow states lead him to many odd coincidences which he claims guide him. The greatest tragedy he says is that many people haven’t accessed flow states before.

This upsets him because he believes they’re therapeutic. It’s this harsh reality that has led him to teach people how to access flow states that he says are a feeling that will “change your life.”

When you’re in the zone and you’re doing everything by touch and feel — you’re not worried about time. It just doesn’t exist.

Flow states increase the value of your life by optimizing the way you use time and experience it. Let that sink in.

How to maximize the value of your time

Thanks to Parkinson’s Law that states “work expands to fill the time that we allocate to it” — time works against you by default if you don’t choose how you’re going to think about it.

The ultimate solution is to use the power of doing only one thing.

Youtuber Ali Abdaal says, “Every day I try to write down the one thing I need to get done that day. By focusing on just one thing I don’t drown in all the other tasks I need to do.”

Ali goes on to suggest we leverage artificial deadlines. I love that idea. It’s why I get my wife to schedule social events right after my writing sessions. It gives me motivation and a deadline to work to.

Takeaway: One objective per day increases the value of your time.

My only measure of success is how much time you have to kill — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

It all boils down to this

The value of your life is expressed through time. Don’t waste time.

Instead, make it count. Give life all that you’ve got. The game of life has a predictable outcome: death. So you’ve got nothing to lose. Invest time while you have it. Say no to dumb stuff.

Let me leave you on this bizarre thought from Katrina Paulsonthat will warp your understanding of time forever and keep you up at night:

If we can’t change our past, what does that say about our futures? Perhaps, there’s more to the concept of fate than we realize.

Is it feasible that everything and everyone has a purpose?

Could it be that there’s a reason you and I happen to be alive right now? That everything that we do and everything happening around us is supposed to happen? That Time wants it to happen?”

Mind blown.

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